Self-awareness helps us tap into our intuition and can come in handy when going through major changes in life. Finishing your higher education and transitioning from a student to a working professional is definitely one of those pivotal moments.
Before you start your career, ask yourself the following questions. Take your time, delve deep into your thought process and answer one question at a time so you get a clearer picture of what you want.
Your values - What's important to you? What are you passionate about? What do you like? What do you dislike? What can you talk about excitedly all day? Which topic gets you all fired up when someone challenges your views?
Your strength and weaknesses/your likes and dislikes - These two are often interlinked, it helps to think about both together. What are you good at? What are you not so good at? What comes naturally to you? What do you find challenging? Taking a personality test is a good way to help you gain clarity.
Your interests and passions - What fascinates you and gives you that fire in your belly? What can you do for a long time and not feel bored or tired? What do you want to learn more about?
Your vision for your future - What are your dreams and goals? Where do you see your career going? What do you want to do 5 or 10 years from now? What are your short, medium and long-term aspirations for work and for your personal life? How do you define success? What kind of lifestyle do you want?
Some students take a sabbatical. Some become entrepreneurs and start their own business. What do you want to do? Do you want to further your studies? Here are some reasons why that might be a good idea.
Knowing yourself makes it easier to identify which roles, companies and industries are the right fit for you. Before you decide, it's important to do some research. You want to make sure you fully understand what are the options out there before assessing whether the particular industry resonates with you.
Spend some time researching:
Industries of interest to you, professions that catch your eye and roles available - for industry and career insights, look at professional bodies within your area of interest. For example, if you are keen on Accounting, in the UK this might be the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) or the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM).
Companies in the industry you're interested in - each company has its own values and is looking for certain types of people to work with them. Do your homework and find out what types of people work in these organisations. You can get clues by browsing company websites and business news sources (such as the Harvard Business Review, Financial Times or Forbes). Talk to professionals in the industry and past graduates, or attend networking events to get more information.
Business functions - once you've identified and shortlisted the industries and companies, research business roles. You need to know exactly how different business functions work, and evaluate where your strengths and interests fit best.
Researching a move or relocating and need some guidance? The HSBC country checklists are designed to help you navigate your first 3 months and beyond so you can start your life abroad successfully.
It's time to piece the pieces of the jigsaw together! Take the insights from your self-reflection and the information you gathered about the job market to help you identify some industries, companies and positions that feel like a good fit. Test your choice against some hypothetical questions. What is it that appeals to you? How do you feel when you imagine yourself working there? Do the employees share similar values with you? Do the industries motivate you? Are their passions aligned with yours? Can you see yourself fitting in while staying true to yourself?
Some may find this to be a straightforward exercise. Others may need to explore more. I'd encourage you to be comfortable with that. With each step forward, you will accumulate more information and learn a little more about your dream job and yourself. Self-reflection will continually evolve for you. You may find yourself going over these steps more than once. And that's OK.
There are other factors that may also be important for you to help you make better choices. If you're moving abroad for work, make sure your new destination is a good fit too: some countries are more business-friendly than others.
Whichever stage of life you're at, it is important to have goals. As you evolve, your goals too may change, that's perfectly OK. Raise the bar, level up, set new goals, and continue to delve within and reflect.
It's not about finding perfection. Salvador Dali said, "Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it." This quote applies not only to career choices, but to many other things in life. And because we live in an ever-changing world, the right approach is to keep yourself on a never-ending journey of self-discovery so you can continue to learn and grow, and make well-informed decisions.
I hope this helps you on the journey of starting a successful career and inspires you to set yourself on the right path. However, remember that change is the only constant – life evolves, businesses pivot, and your career will change, too. Whichever path you choose ,you'll gain valuable life experience, meet many people and make new friends along the way.
Whatever your path - whether that's furthering your studies, joining a company or starting a business - HSBC Premier can help you get your international banking sorted in more than 30 countries and regions around the world.
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Written by Carrie Waley, founder of Global Elite Coaching for Chinese and CEO of Mandarin Consulting. Mandarin Consulting is a global elite coaching industry leader. Our team of dedicated and experienced Western professionals with multi-industry experience offers the most comprehensive and effective expert career coaching to Chinese and Asian students and graduates in the world.
Note: HSBC is not a supplier of the products and services for the Mandarin Consulting Programme and accepts no liability for the quality of goods and services provided by the Vendor involved in this promotion. [HSBC to get author permission to republish in Malaysia if required]
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